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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

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Esther (The Greek Version Containing the Additional Chapters) - Introduction

Of the three known versions of the book of Esther, the Septuagint * (or Greek version) is the longest. Accepted as canon * by Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians, it differs in several ways from the Hebrew version (the Masoretic text * ): It includes pious prayers and the contents of edicts; the names of the characters appear in the original language in their Greek forms (Mardocheus for Hebrew Mordecai; Astin for Hebrew Vasthi; Artaxerxes for Hebrew Ahasuerus; and different names for the eunuchs); and there are occasional internal differences. Earlier scholarship believed a Greek translator working from the Masoretic text added this material to make the text more explicitly religious, since the Hebrew version does not mention the name of God. More recent theories, however, suggest that the Septuagint may preserve an equally old alternative version of the book. In either case, a comparison of the Hebrew and Greek versions offers a glimpse of different writers and different religious communities.

The colophon * (an inscription detailing authorship) that closes the book places it in the Hellenistic * period, when the Jewish people struggled to maintain their identity in a world increasingly influenced by Greek culture. Not surprisingly, then, Greek Esther addresses the issue of Jewish identity more directly than does the Hebrew: Esther keeps God's laws ( 2.20 ); the Persians who align themselves with the Jews become circumcised ( 8.17 ); and the king calls Jewish laws “righteous” ( 16.15 ). As in other narratives * of the Apocrypha * and deuterocanonical books * (Tobit, Susanna, Judith), characters are exemplary role models.

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